Moorea is an island of wild, yet enchanting beauty, where jagged volcanic peaks rise steeply from lush valleys and powder-white beaches, while an emerald lagoon encircled by an offshore coral reef offers perfect conditions for swimming, diving and snorkelling in this island paradise.
The gorgeous island of Moorea offers newlyweds an idyllic and romantic honeymoon destination, just 20km away from the more commercial island of Tahiti.
Moorea (pronounced MOE-oh-ray-ah) is one of the leeward islands of the Society Islands in French Polynesia.
Less developed than Tahiti, the 137sq km island retains an authentic Polynesian island atmosphere with a rural lifestyle and attractive traditional villages that dot the coastal plain.
Moorea is fringed with crunchy white-sand beaches. Some of the best are located between Moorea Village and the Hotel Beachcomber on the northern coast, as well as near the Sofitel Ia Ora on the north-east side of the island.
Many of Moorea’s white sand beaches are generally narrow and scattered between coral outcrops can make them tricky to swim from, but the water is crystal clear and warm, with coral fish abundant.
There are only two public beaches on Moorea, the rest are private and typically front a resort. The best of Moorea's beaches, include…
(East Coast) – Unwind on this palm-fringed crescent of powder-white sand, that lies between a turquoise lagoon and soaring lush green mountain slopes.
Located between the airport and the luxury Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, this gorgeous 1.6km-long public beach has excellent conditions for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling and surfing.
Access is either through the Sofitel Resort or via a dirt road at the northern end of the beach.
(North Coast) – This manicured white-sand beach sits in front of the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, between Opunohu and Cook's bays, and offers excellent swimming and snorkelling.
Relax beneath shade beachside trees and enjoy a range of creature comforts at the Hilton Moorea.
(North Coast) – This excellent white-sand public beach is just a 15 minute walk south along the coast from the Hilton Moorea.
Sunbathe on the soft white sand or relax in the shade of the many trees. The water here is more suitable for snorkelling (especially on the nearby reef), than for swimming. Facilities include a shower and picnic tables, but no toilet.
This narrow stretch of white sand is a popular spot for both tourists and locals on weekends.
(North West Coast) – Explore this narrow, 5km-long stretch of palm-fringed white sand that winds along the coast in front of several hotels, including the luxurious Moorea Intercontinental Hotel, where you can be pampered with a range of creature comforts, as well as the 3-star Hotel Les Tipaniers.
Facilities are provided by the various hotels including kayak and snorkel rental.
Various walking tracks give access to this long stretch of beach.
(West Coast) – Although not a public beach (you need to pay to use it), Painapo offers a beautiful white-sand beach that shelves into crystal clear water, perfect for swimming and snorkelling an underwater snorkel trail.
Sunbathe on the beach, enjoy great lagoon views and watch, traditional dancing, sports, cooking and craft exhibitions. The entrance to Painapo is marked by a huge wooden statue of a Tahitian warrior.
(North Coast) – Hire a boat to take you out to one of the many idyllic motus that dot the lagoon.
Here you can swim and snorkel the clear waters, make your own footprints in the pristine white sand and enjoy a secluded picnic.
Or sign up for an organized shark-feeding excursion to either Motu Fareone or Motu Moea (photo).
Moorea offers a choice of must-see attractions for inquisitive couples, including…
Swim alongside dolphins in the purpose-built lagoon of the InterContinental Resort & Spa, Moorea.
The Dolphin Centre offers a special honeymoon package where you can touch dolphins lightly, join in the daily care of these amazing animals and learn about dolphin-training techniques.
Learn about the island’s marine life at this fascinating aquarium in Cook’s Bay before diving into the real ocean for a day of snorkelling or scuba diving.
(Roto Nui) – From it’s position overlooking Cook’s Bay and Oponohu Bay on the rim of rugged Mont Rotui (823m), the Belvedere Overlook offers one of the world’s most spectacular panoramic vistas.
Reach the lookout by 4WD or take the long and tough uphill climb, then be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the lush Opunohu Valley, Cook’s Bat and Oponohu Bay.
Experience Tahitian culture at Tiki Village and watch how Polynesians create woodcarvings, flower crowns (leis), shell necklaces, appliqué quilts and baskets.
Come on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings to celebrate the tamaíaraía – a feast of island foods accompanied by an energetic show of traditional Polynesian songs and dances.
Pop into this uniquely shaped octagonal church.
Built in 1822 by the London Missionary Society, this is the oldest European building in the South Pacific.
Moorea offers active couples a variety of outdoor activities: learn to scuba dive in the calm, sheltered waters of the turquoise lagoon, snorkel the coral gardens, join a dolphin-watching cruise or hike through the lush forest-clad interior – just perfect for active couples on a romantic getaway or honeymoon.
Cruise Cook’s Bay beneath the majestic panorama of Mount Mouaputa, Mount Mouaroa (aka Mt Bali Hai) and Mount Rotui or alternatively, hike inland to the Belvédère overlook for awesome panoramic vistas overlooking Mount Rotui and both Cook and Opunohu bays.
Snorkel or kayak above coral gardens teeming with colourful reef fish, circumnavigate the island by car or bicycle, and sunbathe on gorgeous Temae Beach with stunning views across the South Pacific Ocean to Tahiti.
Later, soak up Polynesian culture at hip-swaying fire and dance performances at Tiki Village.
Snorkelling – With a lack of strong currents, Moorea offers year-round snorkelling in the shallow, warm waters of the lagoon.
For some of the island's best snorkelling: try Temae Plage Publique (near the Sofitel); Mareto Plage Publique (west of the Sheraton Moorea); the lagoon around the motus off Haapiti on the south-west coast; and Motu Irioa off the north-west coast.
Scuba diving – The best dive sites on Moorea are just a short boat ride from the northwest coast, in depths from 10m to 20m.
Watch shark feeding at Oponohu Canyon at the entrance to the bay on the north coast or Tiki Point off the west coast. Here you can expect to see shark packs of 50 or more, stingrays, napoleon wrasse, moray eels and turtles.
Drift dive through Taotoi Pass (located to the west of Opunohu Bay); see flat montipora coral at The Roses, located at a depth of 35m halfway between Opunohu and Cook's bays; and dive alongside colourful tropical fish at The Wreck, an old ship sunk inside the lagoon.
Visibility in the waters around Moorea ranges from 20m in the shallow lagoons up to 30m on the outside reefs and sea temperatures ranges between 26°C and 29°C year round.
Circle the island – Hire a car, three-wheel scooter or bicycle to explore the island along a scenic 64km-long paved road that coils around the picturesque shoreline. Cool off with a refreshing swim along the way.
Surfing – Both the north and west coast (especially off Haapiti) are good for surfing, with the best kite surfing found off Hauru Point.
Kayaking – Explore the picturesque coast in a sea kayak available from most resorts.
Parasailing – Soar 100m above Moorea's glistening lagoon on a parasailing adventure.
Game fishing – Hook up a charter and fish for marlin (best from November to February), wahoo (best from July to November), mahi mahi (available year round), yellow fin tuna (available year round but best from May to September) and barracuda (from July to November).
Hiking – Explore Moorea’s rich hinterland on several marked and unmarked trails that lead through deep valleys, cross streams into lush rainforest and wind along mountain ridges.
Along the way discover ancient maraes and be rewarded with magnificent ocean and island views.
Some of the island’s best hikes, include the beautiful Oponohu valley and ancient Afareaito Marae and the steep climb to the summit of Mount Rotui, which straddles picturesque Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay.
Or try the Belvedere Overlook to Haapiti Trail on the west coast, offering stunning views of razor sharp mountain peaks; the Afareaitu waterfall track on the south coast; and the Vaiare to Paopao track crossing from the east coast marina to Cook’s Bay on the north coast.
For longer mountain hikes, it’s probably best to go with an experienced guide.
Horseback riding – Gallap along a beach or ride inland on trails through the vanilla plantations of the lush Opunohu Valley.
4WD safari – An easy way to explore the island is on a 4WD trip to see ancient marae (stone sites once used for prayer and sacrifice), lush pineapple and vanilla plantations that crowd valleys, and hilltop lookouts to enjoy panoramic views over the lagoon.
Shopping – On rural Moorea, there are no towns or villages to speak of; instead, discover small settlements scattered alongside the island’s main road with shops selling colourful hand-printed textiles including pareos, handicrafts and black South Sea pearls around Cook’s Bay.
Moorea is renowned worldwide for its superb choice of exclusive over-water and beachside resorts – a must for discerning honeymoon couples who wish to be spoilt by an array of creature comforts as part of their honeymoon package.
The best of Moorea's over-water and beachside resorts, include…
Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort
Prices: from AUD674 per room
Description: Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort is on a picturesque white sand beach and features spectacular views of the crystal lagoon and the iconic silhouette of Tahiti Island. The elegant bungalows offer beachfront or garden views. The resort features an outdoor swimming pool and 2 restaurants The bungalows are made from natural materials and feature a rain shower. Every unit has an LCD TV and Sofitel's exclusive MyBed. At K restaurant, guests can indulge in a striking fusion of local flavors and traditional French cuisine. Pure restaurant offers stunning views and a sumptuous seafood menu. The poolside bar and beach bar offer an idyllic setting to enjoy a drink. The airport is a 5-minute drive away.
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
Prices: from AUD600 per room
Description:This luxury resort features bungalows located among exotic flowers or suspended above a turquoise lagoon. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, a fitness center, a tennis court, 3 restaurants and 3 bars. Free Wi-Fi access is available at the Eimeo bar and at Arii Vahine restaurant. Nestled between 2 bays on the heart-shaped island of Moorea, the bungalows at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa either overlook the garden or provide direct lagoon access. Each bungalow includes a private balcony or terrace, air conditioning and spacious living areas. Some bungalows feature a private plunge pool, a claw-foot bathtub or a glass-bottomed table providing views of the marine life below. The day spa features a range of indulgent massages and beauty treatments. Recreational activities available on site include fishing, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing and windsurfing. Showcasing panoramic ocean views, the lagoon-side restaurant serves a selection of local and international specialties. The Rotui Grill & Bar is ideal for cocktails or a light meal. Guests can enjoy a cocktail at Eimeo Bar or at the swim-up lagoon bar. The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort is a 20-minute drive from Moorea Airport and 25 minutes from the Moorea ferry wharf.
InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea
Prices: from AUD432 per room
Description: This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Nestled between the mountains and a lagoon, this 5-star resort features a choice of over-water bungalows with direct lagoon access, or bungalows surrounded by gardens with their own private plunge pool. InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa features 2 restaurants and an infinity pool with swim-up bar. Guests have access to a 24-hour fitness center, tennis courts, kayaks, water-skiing and dive center. Moorea Dolphin Centre is on site, providing visitors the opportunity to interact with dolphins. Hélène Spa uses traditional Tahitian techniques and ingredients in its massages and body treatments. All accommodations include air conditioning, ironing facilities, cable TV, a minibar and a private bathroom with hairdryer. Moorea Temae Airport is only 8.5 miles from InterContinental Moorea Resort.
Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea
Prices: from AUD416 per room
Description: This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea is a traditional Polynesian-style resort, located just 10 minutes’ drive from the airport. It offers garden bungalows with a sundeck and private plunge pool. All rooms at Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea feature ceiling fans, air conditioning, coffee/tea making facilities and a minibar. Other room facilities include a hairdryer, safety deposit box and flat-screen cable TV. The resort features an outdoor swimming pool located on the beachfront. Manea Spa offers a range of massages and beauty treatments. The Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea is opened every Friday and Saturday and hosts festive themed event for guests to enjoy. Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea is a 15-minute drive from the ferry terminal and 3 km from the magnificent Cook's Bay.
The best time to visit Moorea is during the dry season from late-May to mid-October, when the average high daytime temperature of 29°C (84°F) is tempered by refreshing sea breezes.
June through September is also the coolest and the least rainy time of the year.
Moorea experiences a tropical climate, influenced by the south-east trade winds, with a hot and humid season from November to April and a cooler season from May to October.
The hot season is also the rainiest. The temperature varys little throughout the year.
For more climate info: Moorea Weather Guide…
Moorea is one of the leeward islands of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, just 20km northwest of Tahiti, and is easily accessible with daily international flights connecting through Papeete.
From overseas, the most convenient route to Moorea is by air to Tahiti International Airport (PPT), located near Papeete on the island of Tahiti, followed by a short, 15-minute connecting flight to Moorea Airport (MOZ).
Alternatively, Moorea is just a 30-minute high-speed ferry ride from Papeete, with regular services throughout the day to Vaiare. Slower ferries take 50 minutes and operate four times daily.
The 120 islands that make up French Polynesia are scattered over 2.5 million sq km of the South Pacific, 6,120km northwest of Sydney, Australia and 4,000km northwest of Auckland, New Zealand.
More about how to get to Moorea…
Moorea is best explored by hire car or through excursions. Motorboat and outrigger canoe rentals are also enjoyable ways to explore the lagoon and surrounding motu.
Roads on Moorea are generally good, although some sections are severely potholed, and marked 'deformee'. One main road circles the island taking about one hour to complete by car (or two hours by bus).
Traffic on Moorea drives on the right-hand side of the road.
Boats, kayaks and jet-skis are available from hotels for hire to explore the lagoon.
More about how to get around Moorea…
Latest update: Where to Honeymoon in Moorea: 17 August, 2022